Agriculture is a core business for all economies as a provider of food and jobs, and it will be fundamental for post-pandemic recovery.
Venezuelan Jacobo Arturo Castillo, a senior university technician in agriculture with 35 years of experience, believes that TT has an excellent opportunity to face the economic challenges left by covid19 by making the most of its land.
Castillo has taken refuge in TT since 2018 and works in agriculture there. He thinks TT has type A soil, which has all the ingredients to generate good crops.
In a recent interview with Business Day, Castillo said he believes that given the necessary investment and importance, agriculture can turn around economies and industries negatively affected by the pandemic.
“The pandemic has exposed the weakness of food systems globally. Therefore, it is necessary to integrate immediate measures that promote health and safety in work areas, especially in the agricultural sector for their conservation and recovery, ”he said.
Castillo is originally from the town of Araure, an important agricultural area. He specializes in vegetable production and worked in several agricultural businesses before deciding to come with his family to TT.
Castillo told Business Day: “(It is) precisely the lack of investment and confidence in agricultural production (that) has destroyed Venezuela’s economy. Almost everything that people consume is imported. It was a great example before the pandemic that working the land is essential to stimulate economies … “
Castillo said agriculture can serve as an engine to boost TT’s economy. But to do this requires an increase in the availability of labor and an increase in the number of farms – and farmers.
And Venezuelans in TT can help.
“Currently in TT there are thousands of Venezuelans who have worked in agriculture, because many years ago our country produced thousands of hectares, and many of those who are here know what it is. is than working in agriculture. I am sure that the joint workforce between Venezuelans and Trinidadians will be of great value at this time. “
And not only workers, but also specialists like Castillo himself. Many Venezuelans who are in TT come from the plains and mountains, places where university graduates in agriculture have made their careers.
“If the government and landowners come together and do agriculture-based economic planning, I’m sure all the specialists will help move this country forward.
Castillo has worked for farmers as a laborer since he joined TT and shares the means to improve their cultivation.
Likewise, it underlines the benefits that agriculture brings to the preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems insofar as it is practiced in a sustainable manner and in harmony with the environment.
“Sustainable agriculture promotes better management of natural resources and ecosystem conservation.
According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), “sustainable agriculture must ensure global food security while promoting healthy ecosystems and supporting sustainable management of land and natural resources”.
Castillo said that under this concept, work must be concentrated in several areas to get an economic boost after the pandemic, including social, environmental, economic and political.
And there is groundwork to be done: soil sampling, agricultural census, pricing of agricultural labor, creation of cooperatives or businesses, training and knowledge transfer, formulation of a response to climate change, crop diversification, installation of irrigation systems, and more.
With input from the public and private sectors, he says, “It is possible to start with demonstration (agricultural) plots on a trial basis and to be able to know the yield, resistance and harvest time. Efforts are needed in all aspects. Of our society.”
Kiran Mathur Mohammed, economist, columnist for Newsday and co-founder of a health technology company, said there is a considerable labor shortage in agriculture that local workers do not have been able to fill and that immigrants could solve.
“But it’s not just unskilled labor; there are a lot of Venezuelans with strong technical skills in agriculture, skills that are sorely lacking,” he said. “Venezuelan workers and technical expertise can step in to help quickly increase the productivity of the sector without displacing the local workforce. “
Mathur Mohammed said this was just one example of how Venezuelans can help improve agriculture in TT.